Author Of AB5 Says It Needs Some Changes

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) is the author of the controversial AB5, the law that critics say virtually destroys the gig-economy in California, an industry that is worth $1 trillion dollars.

The law limits the use of classifying workers as 'independent contractors' rather than employees, which, in turn has meant that freelance workers like journalists and photographers were limited to just 35 submissions per year, per client.

In December, the Pacific Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit on behalf of journalists and photographers saying AB5 was an 'unconstitutional restraint of free speech and the media.' They are expected in court on March 9th.

Gonzalez says that over the last few weeks, she has met with freelance journalists and photographers and now believes that some clarifications to the law need to be made, and so she's seeking to amend the law. In a series of tweets, she outlined her plans to introduce AB1850, which would cut out the 35 submission cap and more clearly define 'freelancer journalism.'

Representatives for the Pacific Legal Foundation says while they're happy about the move to make changes, that it looks like it's a step in the right direction, but that they have not yet seen the exact wording of the legislation, so they'll wait to see if what she introduces will satisfy all of their concerns.

In addition to the changes she has announced so far, Gonzalez said that she's also looking into making more changes that would affect musicians, small businesses and non-profits.

"We plan to address the unique situation regarding musicians in the next round of amendments by March."

Musicians complained that under AB5, they would have to be hired as employees for one-time engagements and would require bands to form employment structures, which they said in many cases would be prohibitive.

But, Gonzalez says any changes to AB5 will not apply companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash, who believe they should be exempt from the law. They are pushing a ballot initiative that would allow them to keep their drivers and couriers as 'independent contractors.'

Gonzalez says:

"I will fight Uber's attempt to exempt themselves through initiative."

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